Canada Boat to Gaza Boarded, Forced Back to Greece

From Al Jazeera English:

A Canadian boat taking part in a planned aid flotilla to Gaza has been boarded by Greek coast guards after attempting to break out of Crete harbour, according to activists aboard the vessel.

Most of the boats which hoped to sail to Gaza in an effort to break Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory have been stuck in Greek ports after being refused permission to embark on the journey by Greek authorities.

The Tahrir sailed 15 minutes out of harbour in an attempt to reach international waters before it was intercepted by coastguards, activists told Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera spoke with activists on the boat as it was being boarded by members of the Greek coast guard.

“Some of the Greek coast guard have boarded and are trying to take control of the vessel,” Dylan Penner, a member of the steering committee of the boat, told Al Jazeera while the boat was still sailing away from the harbour.

“We’re about 15 minutes out of port, and still under power. We are still moving forward. We still have control of the Tahrir.”

But members of the coast guard promptly took control of the vessel and are currently bringing it back to port, Penner said.

“We were going 15 knots for 15 minutes, attempting to reach international waters that are 95km from the coast,” Penner said. “I estimate that we made it a quarter of the way.”

The coast guard boat was parked near the marina guarding the Tahrir, Penner said: “We saw a window of opportunity and took it by using kayakers to block the coast guard. But eventually the coast guard ship caught up with us, and launched a Zodiak from which we were boarded.”

On Friday the US boat, The Audacity of Hope, left port, only to be blocked by the coast guard, who towed the ship back to port, where it is being detained. The captain of that boat was jailed and charged with a felony.

Earlier, David Heap, aboard the Tahrir, said that preventing the boats from sailing was a “clear violation” of human rights.

“The Tahrir is leaving port in Crete, and we are breaking through Israel’s Gaza blockade which now extends to Greek ports,” Heap said.

TAKE ACTION

Contact the Greek Embassy in Canada and tell them to “Let the Freedom Flotilla sail”: Call 613-238-6271 or email embassy@greekembassy.ca. Full contact information for the Greek Embassy and Consulates in Canada are:

Greek Embassy, OTTAWA http://www.greekembassy.ca
76- 80 Maclaren Street Ottawa Ontario Canada K2P OK6
Phone: +1-613-2386271 +1-613-2386273
Fax: +1-613-2385676
Email: embassy@.greekembassy.ca

Greece Consulate, MONTREAL
1170 Place Du Frere Andre, Suite 300 Montreal Quebec H3B 3C6
Phone: +1-514-8759902 +1-514-8752119
Fax: +1-514-8758781
Email: montreal.consulate@greekembassy.ca

Greek Consulate, TORONTO
365 Bloor Street East, Suite 1800
Toronto Canada M4W 3L4
Phone: +1-416-5150133 +1-416-5150134
Fax: +1-416-5150209
Email: toronto.consulate@greekembassy.ca

Greece Consulate, VANCOUVER
500-688 West Hastings Street Vancouver Canada V6B 1P1
Phone:+1-604-6811381 +1-604-6841366
Fax: +1-604-6816656
Email: vancouver.consulate@greekembassy.ca

CONTACT INFO FOR GREEK OFFICIALS IN GREECE

Address for the media to contact the president: internationalmediaoffice@primeminister.gr
On facebook: George A. Papandreou
On Twitter: @PrimeministerGR

Follow the Canadian Boat for Gaza

Visit tahrir.ca for updates on the Canadian Boat for Gaza.

You can also follow the CBG on Twitter at @CanadaBoatGaza and @TahrirCanada. You can also follow co-founder and steering committee member of Independent Jewish Voices and the Canadian Boat to Gaza Dylan Penner, one of the CBG delegates, at @DylanPenner. Flotilla hashtags: #Canada4Gaza, #flotilla2 and #FF2StayHuman.

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